It’s Crunch Time: Building a Better Budget for 2016

This time every year many CEOs and marketing directors report that it’s “crunch time.” Their thoughts range from what to do with a balance in the business or marketing budget (which is certain to evaporate if not invested by year’s end) to the bubbling pressure to estimate a marketing budget for 2016 — without complete strategic direction or firm data on 2015 outcomes.

Here are a few guidelines to help those who need a thoughtful, yet strategic path to contemplating deploying these valuable resources.

First, conduct a brief audit with your most productive senior sales staff on any new business initiatives. Is there a task or deliverable that, if jump-started, shows promise for measured success by year’s end? This could take the shape of a targeted digital campaign, a niche direct-mail initiative or some research that engages a narrow segment of your key customer base. The qualifying factor should be that the action presents a measurable metric towards something specific in wrapping up the year or establishing a baseline for next year.

Alternatively, consider investing the resources in developmental work that will help 2016 roll out with energy and on schedule. Make sure all divisions of your operation have bought in to the plan. The assignment could take the form of a brand or marketing audit, developing an internal communications plan (which could also take the form of team-building), or specialized training in crisis or media relations for key staff members.

Time and again we hear that resources carefully invested in strategy and outcomes measurement are two of the most overlooked, and yet, most value-generating planning categories. It’s been our experience to guide clients facing these types of challenges. Starting 2016 in a strong fashion just might equate to smart decision making as you wrap up 2015. Would a thoughtful dialogue ease some of that stress?

By Virginia Roth Chief Branding & Strategy Officer